Are Chinchillas Cuddly? [How To Increase Cuddling]


As chinchilla owners or potential future chinchilla owners, I’m sure you all have questions such as if a chinchilla is cuddly or not.

I had the same issues when I adopted my first chinchilla from a local breeder.

I got my first chinchilla when she was 10 months old.

She came from an incredible breeder who took outstanding care of her but I still wanted the answer to that extremely common question.

Are chinchillas cuddly?

I’ve now owned my chinchilla for over a year and here is the insight I can provide you on this topic.

So, are chinchillas cuddly? No, most chinchillas are not cuddly. Chinchillas don’t prefer to be handled frequently. Chinchillas are prey animals in the wild and are hunted frequently. This makes chinchillas naturally timid and not overly cuddly pets. Never force a non-receptive chinchilla to cuddle.

Don’t be overly disappointed by this answer.

It’s rare that chinchillas like to cuddle due to being a hunted species in the wild and tend to be very timid.

Cuddly chinchillas certainly exist and it’s definitely possible to groom your chinchilla to enjoy cuddling with more frequency.

The rest of this post is designed to break that down for you in-depth.

In today’s brief 2-minute post we will also touch on the behavior and attitude you can expect from your chinchilla when you attempt some of these bonding moments.

To keep things easy, I have created easy to navigate links directly below that will allow you to skip to any specific section of this post that you desire to learn more about.

Here’s what is on our agenda for the day:

If you are in a hurry and only need the information on one specific area of this post, feel free to use the links above.

If, however, you have the free time and want to know the ins and outs about if chinchillas are cuddly animals, stick around.

It will only take about 2-minutes to break it down.

Here is what you need to know.

Do Chinchillas Like to Cuddle?

Here’s the deal with a chinchilla cuddling.

Chinchillas take several weeks to adjust and to get used to their new environment.

Chinchillas may show affection and love, but they don’t like being overly handled or held in many circumstances.

Don’t let this news turn you away though.

After just a week or so, my chinchilla started warming up and interacting with me much more than she did initially upon arriving home.

With some proper conditioning, respect of your chinchillas’ space, and some patience, your chinchilla can show more love and affection towards you than you may think.

Especially when he or she begins recognizing you as their owner.

This is especially important during the initial weeks when you return home or bring your chinchilla home for the first time.

Your house makes noises.

Your furnace may kick on and make some small clatter that may cause your chinchilla to be more reserved and scared in the initial weeks’ home.

You may be using a basement near a washer and dryer or even have young kids running around.

Depending on where you got your chinchillas such as a rescue or even a pet store, these noises are likely different than what they are used to.

In addition, everything will look different and smell different to your chinchilla.

This is putting their senses into overdrive.

I know it did when my chinchilla first arrived home.

I have a small wooden hiding/nest box in my chinchilla cage, and she barely came out of it at all during the first week.

I even used a DSLR camera to record her at night, so I could make sure she was eating and drinking water.

One of the most significant tips I can give you is to use small spaces to your advantage.

What I mean by this is to utilize a pop-up animal tent to interact with your chinchilla in the early days and first weeks.

They are completely safe for your chinchilla.

They also force your chinchilla to bond and trust you much faster due to having limited space to run around.

It’s what I attribute to my bond growing and my chinchilla being overly cuddly quickly into the relationship with me.

They are plenty large enough for you and others to sit inside of and it will take only a few days for your chinchilla to warm up to you.

My chinchilla was sitting on my shoulders within a few days using this approach.

I used this exact pop-up tent to interact with my chinchilla. (Link to Amazon)

Trust me, if cuddling is something you desire out of becoming a chinchilla parent, this is going to take you to that point much faster.

Not to mention, they are enclosed, your chinchilla can’t run away and there are no further dangers of wire chewing or other issues.

It’s awesome.

Plain and simple.

Can You Cuddle A Chinchilla In the First Days Home?

Although you may luck out and find a chinchilla that loves to cuddle and be held, it’s not extremely common.

It’s not recommended during the first few weeks.

This is when your chinchilla will be the most fearful and defensive and certainly not in the mood for cuddling.


Attempting to pick up your chinchilla or placing your fingers in their faces may not even be a good idea during the first week.

Don’t get me wrong.

Although a chinchilla can bite, they are extremely friendly soft loving pets but any pet, when scared out of their mind, can act a bit differently than they will when they are warmed up.

Like I said, my chinchilla didn’t do much except sit in her hiding box when I first got her home.

I gave her some treats over the next week or so and made it her come to my hand to get them just to begin building the bond.

In addition, I got her out for dust baths.

She was shy and scared during this time, but at the end of the day, she slowly starts coming around and getting used to the environment.

At the end of the day just ensure you continue to spend time with your chinchilla to ensure they don’t get lonely.

While a chinchilla may not be the most cuddly creature, they are certainly an extremely social pet.

Accommodate, adjust and go with the flow.

Chinchillas Become More Cuddly As Time Passes

After your chinchilla is comfortable with the environment, things begin to change, and you can start to see the love.

My chinchilla took about 7-10 days for this transition once we arrived home.

After she was comfortable, I began attempting to condition her some and let her know that I’m safe and one of the good guys.

I would get her out for about 30-45 minutes every day and interact with her.

Now, a few weeks into it, she will jump on me, sit on my shoulders, climb on my head and from time to time even nibble my ear.

My goal during this phase was to really show her that I’m safe and build the association, that I represent pleasure and safety.

I never invaded her space non-invited.

You shouldn’t do this either if you ever expect your chinchilla to cuddle with you.

If your chinchilla gets squirrely when you pick them up, set them down.

If they scatter when being touched or petted in the first week or so, wait for them to come to you.

I’d offer small treats, allow her to eat out of my hand and would even bring the dust bath into the room where we have out of the cage playtime each day.

My Story About How Cuddly My Chinchilla Is

Now things have shifted dramatically.

Me just walking into the room near her, gets her excited and to the front of her cage ready to play.

I can pet her in the cage and outside of the cage.

She loves being scratched behind her ears and under her chin (no pun intended).

Now, during playtime, she is cuddly.

She was not cuddly in the beginning but she has become very cuddly since.

It’s just how it goes with chinchillas as they slowly get comfortable.

Well, sort of…

If I lay down on the floor, even though the room is decent sized, she will burrow into my chest, lay on my shoulder or just hang out for several minutes.

We haven’t taken a nap together by any means and cuddled up for a movie day, but she’s undoubtedly beginning to warm up and show how great chinchillas can be as pets.

Don’t overdo it and allow them time.

Trying to push the issue too much will just have them fleeing in the option direction from you.

No need to have your chinchilla wanting to run away from you.

The Cons of Forcing Cuddling

Forcing it too much in the beginning or in general can cause a lot of anxiety in your chinchilla.

If you have never owned before, you may run into what’s known as a fur slip.

I have a post that discusses all the reasons why chinchillas lose their fur that you can see here.

A fur slip is nothing more than a defense mechanism chinchilla’s use in the wild to protect themselves from enemies.

I don’t think you want to experience the feeling that you pushed it too much and your chinchilla is that frightful of you.

Chinchilla shedding is normal.

That’s perfectly okay.

You don’t need to rush to purchase a brush or groom your chinchilla.

If, however, it’s a large patch of fur that takes the chinchilla down to the skin, you need to back off.

Give them space and stop attempting to force any form of cuddling.

Kids Should Avoid Over Cuddling A Chinchilla

During the warming-up period, don’t beat yourself over cuddling with your chinchilla and scaring them into a fur slip.

It happens, and the fur will grow back.

It’s going to happen to you several more times over the next 15 years.

My 2-year-old son was the first person to make my chinchilla have a fur slip for trying to force cuddling and handling a bit aggressively or too often.

Now they interact with each other and are perfectly fine.

It’s about finesse, taking things slow and building that bond with your chinchilla if you ultimately want to reach the cuddle time in the future.

Take it Slow Increasing Handling and Cuddling

I’ve noticed over the past couple of months that the smallest things make the most significant difference.

I believe this is what has led my chinchilla to be more open to cuddles and interaction with me and my family.

She sits near me in my home office all day, and I’ll randomly talk to her.

I clean her cage daily and give her a treat while doing so.

I pet her in her cage but only if she comes to me, and I just treat her with the same respect that I would treat any other animal.

If she’s not in the mood.

I leave her alone.

Plain and simple.

If she is in the mood to cuddle, I show her attention (when I have the time of course).

It’s straightforward in all honesty and doesn’t take much to pick up on the signs your chinchilla is sending you.

 Signs It’s Not Time for Cuddles

Chinchillas will rarely show any aggression so don’t take this section of this post in a fashion that worries you.

However, your chinchilla may show you signs that’s it’s 100% a bad idea to attempt to cuddle.

If your chinchilla is shaking in fear or is continually trying to hide or get away from you, it’s time to start rethinking your strategy.

If a female chinchilla sprays urine at you, it’s time to back off and attempt to cuddle another day.

The same could be said if your chinchilla attempts to nibble or bite you in a more aggressive fashion than usual.

Trust Will Get You Closer to Cuddle Time

I call this the circle of trust and fear.

Picture your chinchilla as having a circle of chalk around her drawn on the floor almost like a crime scene would have.

That’s her fear and trust circle.

She may fear you in the beginning but respecting this circle begins to condition him or her towards getting used to you.

Getting used to your smells, voice, physical appearance and all that entails.

Slowly, if you just respect their space, you have conditioned them that when you’re around nothing terrible ever happens.

The circle gets smaller.

Now you can get them out to play, but the circle still exists.

Don’t push it.

Let them out, and if they want to jump and poop on your head, that’s fine.

It’s up to them.

Don’t worry either.

The poop and the chinchilla do not smell.

However, just always remember to build this trust first and let the cuddling take place after.

It’s as easy that my friends.

Once The Trust Is Built, Maintain It.

Eventually, the circle does disappear.

For me, this took about 3 weeks total as I stated before.

I can grab her, place my fingers in her face, let her jump all over me and she gets excited anytime I’m around.

Just give it time and show some respect and the cuddles will follow.

Don’t Be Alarmed if Your Chinchilla Never Cuddles

Also, you need to keep in mind that not all chinchillas are the same.

They don’t all enjoy interaction the same or want to cuddle.

This may take years to overcome, or it may never happen in general.

The key is to remain patient and realize it’s just the luck of the draw with your chinchilla.

With some dust bath time, treats and proper care and handling, I have full faith your chinchilla will eventually be ready to show some love towards you and yes, eventually even cuddle.

That’s when it becomes the most fun as a chinchilla owner.

The head sitting, shoulder running, leg jumping, ear nibbling time is what we all are looking for.

Well, at least I was.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, if you follow these directions, I’m confident you can form that unbreakable bond with your chinchilla and have a chinchilla willing to cuddle with you.

Eventually, they come around and realize you’re the boss but also that you love them.

They love you too and enjoy your company and time out of the cage.

Be sure always to set aside time each day to let your chinchilla play and interact with you and the family.

Don’t push the envelope too much and eventually, you will be thrilled you made the decision to get a chinchilla as the family pet.

Share Your Thoughts On This Topic

What’s your experience with cuddling and handling your chinchilla?

How long did it take for you to warm up to your chinchilla and for the bond to grow?

Be sure to drop a comment below.

I’d love to hear from all of you.

Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 4 year-old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know. I'm the Author of the eBook "The Ultimate Chinchilla Care Guide, From Adoption and On"

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